Books Read (But Not Reviewed) in September 2015

By BloodI’m quite a fan of bloggers’ monthly reading recaps so thought I might try it myself. As ever, I’ll only include books I feel are worth recommending so should this become a regular feature they’re unlikely to be long posts.

I almost gave up Ellen Ullman’s By Blood, mainly because it has a curiously antiquated style – perhaps over-stylised might be a better way to describe it. It’s about a lecturer, currently on an enforced sabbatical because of his obsessive behaviour towards his students, who overhears a therapist and her client wrestling with the effects of her adoption on her life. He takes it upon himself to intervene, playing detective and tracking down the client’s birth mother. Somewhat improbable yet compelling, it’s well worth a read.

Bret Anthony Johnston’s Remember Me Like This follows a family whose older son has gone missing but four years later is found alive, having been abducted and abused. It’s told with a great deal of compassion from the point of view of each member of the family, all of whom have been changed irrevocably. A difficult subject well handled, although a tad too long for my taste.

Naomi Wood’s Mrs Hemingway is one of those books much tweeted about last year. The Hemingway husband in question is Ernest but as you can tell from the title it’s really about his four wives. Ernest is much as you would expect but what’s really interesting is the novel’s portrayal of the relationships between the four wives, three of whom forge enduring friendships with each other – comrades in arms, perhaps.

The last title is Tim Spector’s The Diet Myth, way outside my usual literary beat but Cover imageabsolutely fascinating. Spector has been involved in a long-term study of microbes that live in our gut – friendly bacteria as those probiotic yoghurt adverts like to call them. He argues that these microbes, which differ from person to person, are essential for our health. Their elimination – often because of lack of diversity in our diets thanks to processed food – may well help to explain the seemingly inexorable march of obesity. He counters the many myths peddled by the media about the effect of what we eat on our health and made me think carefully about my own diet, proudly free of most processed food as it is. Very clever jacket, too.

That’s September’s roundup. Maybe there’ll be another one for October.

14 thoughts on “Books Read (But Not Reviewed) in September 2015

  1. Claire 'Word by Word'

    A right cornucopia of books there Susan! I was lent the Mrs Heminway book and rather enjoyed it, especially that one wife that didn’t fit the mold, the spirited, independent one that dared to ditch him.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      It’s the old bookseller magpie in me! Ms Gellhorn was my favourite, too, but I like the way the other three forged alliances with each other, rather like a Hemingway survivors group

      Reply
  2. BookerTalk

    I keep hearing about Mrs Hemingway but I think my feelings towards the writing style of her husband are prejudicing me against this book. Silly I know…..

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      That’s why it took me so long to get around to reading it but it’s very much more about the four wives and the relationships between them than it is about him. Well worth a read.

      Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Thanks, Ali, I suspect I will. You’re one of the bloggers whose recaps has inspired me!

      Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Definitely the interaction between the three of the wives that appealed to me, Alice. I enjoyed it much more than I expected.

      Reply
  3. Alex

    You’ve reminded me that at one point ‘Mrs Hemmingway’ was on my radar. Somehow it’s slipped off. I’m wondering though, if there might not be enough books about the wives of authors to make a trio for next year’s summer school. I must do some digging.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      That’s a very interesting idea, Alex. I’m sure you could come up with a couple of others, at least.

      Reply
  4. Elena

    The Diet Myth sounds fascinating. I read The Beauty Myth this summer and was also surprised to find about the way ‘health’ and ‘healthy living’ are thrown at us and make us feel guilty if we do not spend enough in being ‘healhty’. Maybe these two books complement each other?

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      It’s much more of a popular science book, Elena. I think the title is a little misleading but you’re right about the constant stream of misleading stories in the media, some of them downright pernicious.There’s a great deal of money made out of making us feel insecure, both about the way we look and about our health.

      Reply

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